Henry Griffith received five surviving poems by Guto’r Glyn (poems 32–6) and another by Gwilym Tew (Jones 1981: poem III; further on the poetry, see below). There is a detailed study of his career in Chapman 2013.
Lineage The genealogical table below is based on WG1 ‘Drymbenog’ 12 and WG2 ‘Drymbenog’ 12B1. Those named in Guto’s poems for Henry are shown in bold print.
Lineage of Henry Griffith of Newcourt
According to Bartrum, Henry Griffith had three children with his second wife, Maud daughter of Phillip Gunter. He also fathered three other daughters, but it is not known with whom (he may have fathered some of them with his first wife, Alison daughter of Eustace Whitney). Furthermore, Henry had a relationship with an unnamed daughter of one Siencyn Goch of Brecon, with whom he fathered a son named Lawrence. Henry’s mother was called Maud (cf. 33.54). Bartrum notes that Gruffudd, Henry’s father, married two women called Maud in succession, one a daughter of Gwilym Llwyd ap Gerald Barry and the other a daughter of William Gunter. Leaving aside the question whether this is likely, it is certain that Henry Griffith’s mother was Maud daughter of Gwilym Llwyd ap Gerald Barry, since Guto mentions Gwilym Llwyd and Gerallt as being names of ancestors of Henry (32.13–14; 33.24n).
His locality Henry lived at Newcourt in the parish of Bacton, upon the banks of the river Dore in Herefordshire, places to which Guto’r Glyn refers repeatedly. In Henry’s day the Golden Valley (i.e. the valley of the Dore) was part of the shire of Hereford proper, but the poets who visited it recalled its earlier history as a part of the Welsh unit of Ewyas (Ewias, Euas). To the west of the Golden Valley lay the greater part of Ewyas, forming a marcher lordship known from the name of its first Norman lords as Ewyas Lacy. Henry also seems to have had a residence within the lordship at Longtown (also known as Ewyas Lacy). Certainly Guto’r Glyn refers to himself visiting Henry in both Newcourt and Longtown (Y Dref Hir: 36.35–6).
His career Henry Griffith’s father, Gruffudd ap Harri, was a supporter of Owain Glyndŵr, if only for a brief period (Chapman 2013: 106). Gruffudd ap Harri was still alive in 1439 when he was excommunicated (ibid. 107). Henry Griffith held the rank of esquire, below that of knight (35.7). He was a man of some consequence in his locality. Much of this he owed to his loyal service to Richard, duke of York, and to his connections with other local gentry. In particular, Henry was or became part of the large affinity of the Herbert and Devereux families (or the ‘Devereux-Herbert gang’ as it is less flatteringly termed by Ailsa Herbert 1981: 107). He and his sons are repeatedly associated with these men in the sources of the time.
Some dates are listed below which allow Henry Griffith’s career to be traced:
Witness along with his father to a grant of the manor of Llancillo in Ewyas Lacy (Chapman 2013: 106)
Member of the garrison at Carentan, France (Chapman 2013: 108)
Accused of attacking church lands in Herefordshire (Chapman 2013: 109)
Served under Richard, duke of York, in France (Chapman 2013: 112). He was captain of the ordinance company (i.e., the guns)
Made master forester in the lordship of Builth for Richard, duke of York, and also received offices from the duke in England (Chapman 2013: 121; Johnson 1988: 233)
Steward of Machen for Humphrey, duke of Buckingham (Chapman 2013: 121)
May have accompanied Richard, duke of York, to Ireland (Chapman 2013: 123)
Sheriff of Newport and Wentloog for Humphrey, duke of Buckingham (Chapman 2013: 121)
Sat on a commission to adjudicate on the inheritance of Anne Beauchamp’s lands in Herefordshire; she had died in 1449. Henry Griffith and the other commissioners later farmed the lordship of Ewyas Lacy (Chapman 2013: 121–2)
Steward of Usk and Caerleon for Richard, duke of York, and steward of Brecon, Hay and Huntington for the duke of Buckingham (Herbert 1981: 122n91; Chapman 2013: 122–3)
Punished for supporting Richard, duke of York, against the royal court and for lawbreaking in Herefordshire (Chapman 2013: 127–8; Johnson 1988: 118)
His sons John and Miles ap Harry took part in the seizure of Hereford led by William Herbert and Walter Devereux (Chapman 2013: 130–1; GHS 191–3)
Pardoned along with his son Miles, William Herbert, Walter Devereux and others for his part in the disorders of 1456
1460 (22 March)
Appointed steward of Ewyas Lacy for life following the rebellion of Richard, duke of York, and Richard Neville, earl of Warwick (Chapman 2013: 132)
1461 (2/3 February)
Fought for Edward, earl of March, at the battle of Mortimer’s Cross (as attested by William Worcester, see Chapman 2013: 132)
1461 (28 March)
Sat on a commission investigating the lands held by rebels in Carmarthenshire (Chapman 2013: 132–3)
Excluded from the effects of the law of resumption repealing grants formerly made by the king (Chapman 2013: 133)
1467 (14 August)
Appointed to a commission of oyer et terminer in north Wales (Thomas 1994: 34)
A list of Henry Griffith’s debts to abbey Dore drawn up, noting his death (Williams 1976: 41; Chapman 2013: 133).
His patronage of the poets We do not know how or when Guto’r Glyn first met Henry Griffith. Poem 32 was recorded in Pen 57, which is assigned a date c.1440. The words Herod wyf i Harri deg / A phrifardd (‘I am herald-poet to fair Harry / and chief poet’: 32.15–16) suggest that Guto had already received patronage from Henry, doubtless in the 1430s. But he also calls Henry iôn Bactwn ‘lord of Bacton’ (32.8), which suggests that Henry’s father was dead. He was still alive in 1439 (Chapman 2013: 107), so poem 32 cannot be placed earlier than 1439, and it must be assigned to 1440 or at least the very early 1440s in order to accommodate the date of Pen 57. Years later, Guto recalled that it was Henry Griffith who introduced him to the service of the duke of York (36.23–4):
Dug fi at y dug of Iorc Dan amod cael deunawmorc.
‘He took me to the duke of York with the agreement that I should get eighteen marks.’
This probably refers to 1436, but 1441, when both Guto and Henry are known to have gone to France, is also possible.
The only other poet known to have performed for Henry Griffith is Gwilym Tew of Glamorgan. He brought with him a request poem for a horse composed in the interest of Harry Stradling of St Donats (Jones 1981: poem III). Stradling’s daughter married Henry’s son Miles. However, Guto refers to the ‘men of Glamorgan’ (35.32) visiting Henry, so we can assume that other poets made the trip to Ewyas.
Newcourt was inherited by Henry Griffith’s son Miles ap Harry (Mil ap Harri). Miles’ son Harry Miles (Harri Mil) was the recipient of an outspoken poem by Hywel Dafi, recorded in manuscript c.1483 (Peniarth 67, 67), in which the poet strongly advised him not to marry an Englishwoman:
Pas les o daw Saesnes hir I baradwys ein brodir?… Cymer ferch Cymro farchawg
‘What good will it do for a tall Englishwoman to come to the paradise of our valley?… Take rather the daughter of a Welsh knight …’
It is an instructive comment on cultural identities in the Golden Valley in the later fifteenth century. Harry Miles’s response to this advice is not known, but he did marry an Englishwoman, and the fruit of their union was Blanche Parry, the well-known lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I (Richardson 2007). Henry Griffith was therefore her great-grandfather.
Bibliography Chapman, A. (2013), ‘ “He took me to the duke of York”: Henry Griffith, a “Man of War” ’, 103–34 Herbert, A. (1981), ‘Herefordshire, 1413–61: Some Aspects of Society and Public Order’, R. Griffiths (ed.), Patronage, the Crown and the Provinces in Later Medieval England (Gloucester), 103–22 Johnson, P.A. (1988), Duke Richard of York 1411–1460 (Oxford) Jones, A.E. (1981), ‘Gwilym Tew: Astudiaeth Destunol a Chymharol o’i Lawysgrif Peniarth 51, ynghyd ag Ymdriniaeth â’i Farddoniaeth’ (Ph.D. Cymru [Bangor]) Richardson, R. (2007), Mistress Blanche, Queen Elizabeth’s Confidante (Woonton) Thomas, D.H. (1994), The Herberts of Raglan and the Battle of Edgecote 1469 (Enfield) Williams, D.H. (1976), White Monks in Gwent and the Border (Pontypool)
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